Testing of the much-anticipated Defense Travel System will continue, a sign that the outlook for the project is good, a spokesman for the project said Wednesday. In March, Air Force Col. Pamela Arias, the Defense Travel System program director, denied rumors that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might do away with the whole project altogether, and said a decision on the future of the project was slated for April
. Since then, the official announcement on the program's future has been delayed until June 4. But additional testing of the system this summer at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., is "pretty much a done deal," said Anthony Garcia, a spokesman for the Defense Travel System. By approving additional testing, the Pentagon is indicating that it will move forward with the project, which is designed to streamline federal travel. The Defense Travel System missed its Dec. 18, 2000 launch date, which was set in October 2000. Launch of the new system has been delayed several times
since its conception in 1994. In early October, Defense officials began a series of tests by travelers at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The tests showed that training, system set-up and help desk operations needed improvement for the Defense Travel System to be effective. A second round of tests at Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, S.C., confirmed that the quality and delivery of training has improved. Another round of tests is scheduled for July and August at Ellsworth. Garcia said the Pentagon most likely will begin implementing the travel program in select areas after it reviews the results of the Ellsworth tests. The Defense Travel System promises to streamline everything involved in taking a business trip, from the number of approval signatures required to auditing and voucher processing. It will also enable employees to request authorization to travel, make arrangements and submit claims from desktop computers. The Defense Department's current travel system uses paper vouchers, invoices and other supporting documents. In January 1995, Defense's Travel Reengineering Task Force found that the department's travel system was fragmented, inefficient and expensive to administer.